Coursera’s Inaugural Global Skills Index Finds Two Thirds of the World Behind in Critical Skills

The world’s largest online learning platform benchmarks 60 countries and 10 industries across technology, business, and data science skills

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--()--Coursera, the world’s leading online learning platform, today announced the release of the inaugural Coursera Global Skills Index (GSI), an in-depth look at skill trends and performance for 60 countries and 10 industries in the key domains of Business, Technology and Data Science.

With 39 million learners and more than 3,000 courses from the world's top universities and industry educators, Coursera has one of the largest databases to study skill trends. Leveraging actual Coursera learner performance data, the GSI provides actionable insights to governments and companies, which they can use to build learning and retraining programs that address their skills strengths and shore up their weaknesses.

The global skills landscape is under major transition. With technology advancing faster than humans, the skills that once fueled careers, industries, and entire economies will no longer suffice,” said Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera. “With the launch of Coursera’s Global Skills Index, governments and companies now have unprecedented access to high quality skills data to understand how their workforce stacks up against the world and take action on any critical upskilling opportunities.”

For this first edition of the Global Skills Index, Coursera analyzed the results of over 3 million learners who completed over 40 million assessments to benchmark 60 countries and 10 industries across Business, Technology, and Data Science skills. The findings draw from an innovative data methodology that uses machine learning to map skills to the content that teaches them and then robustly measure skill proficiencies based on the assessment performance.

Coursera is excited to reveal these rich skills insights and to continue to partner with governments, businesses, and individuals around the world to put this data into action.

Here are some of the key findings:

  • Two-thirds of the world’s population is falling behind in critical skills, including 90% of developing economies. Countries that rank in the lagging or emerging categories (the bottom two quartiles) in at least one domain make up 66% of the world’s population, indicating a critical need to upskill the global workforce. Many countries with developing economies — and with less to invest in education — see larger skill deficiencies, with 90% ranking in the lagging or emerging categories.
  • Europe is the global skills leader. European countries make up over 80% of the cutting-edge category (top quartile globally) across Business, Technology, and Data Science. Finland, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Norway, and the Netherlands are consistently cutting-edge in all three domains. This advanced skill level is likely a result of Europe’s heavy institutional investment in education via workforce development and public education initiatives.
  • Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, and Latin America have high skill inequality. Consistent with the vast economic and cultural diversity that characterizes each region, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, and Latin America have the greatest within-region skill variance. Asia Pacific is at the extremes of the global Business rankings with New Zealand (#6) and Australia (#9) approaching the very top, while Pakistan (#57) and Bangladesh (#59) land near the bottom. In the Middle East and Africa, Israel is a leader in each of the three domains and #1 in Data Science, while Nigeria lags near the bottom of the rankings across domains, and is last in Data Science. In Latin America, Argentina’s #1 ranking in Technology is in stark contrast to Mexico’s (#43) and Colombia’s (#49) lower proficiencies in the field.
  • The United States must upskill while minding regional differences. Although known as a business leader for innovation, the U.S. hovers around the middle of the global rankings and is not cutting-edge in any of the three domains. Within the U.S., skill proficiency is distributed non-uniformly while the West ranks ahead of other regions in Technology and Data Science, the Midwest shines in Business.

In addition to benchmarking countries, Coursera also evaluated trending skills globally and skill proficiencies across 10 major industry verticals:

  • Demand for Technology and Data Science skills is growing, while demand for Business skills is shrinking. Across the board, enrollment numbers highlight fast-growing demand for Technology and Data Science skills from individuals and companies alike. While Technology enrollments increased by 13%, for example, Business enrollments decreased by 11%.
  • Technology industry professionals lack strong business skills. Technology ranks 5th in the Business domain out of the ten industries in our analysis.
  • Manufacturing shows skills resilience in the digital era. Manufacturing ranks #1 in both Business and Technology and demonstrates an aptitude for tackling change successfully.
  • Telecommunications consistently ranks near the top. Telecommunications is the only industry to rank consistently in the top three across Business, Technology, and Data Science (#3 in each).
  • Finance surprises with below-average skills performance. Despite its pursuit of digital transformation, Finance ranks second to last in Business (#9) and Data Science (#9), and hovers near the middle in Technology (#5).

To download the full report, visit

About Coursera:

Coursera was founded by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng with a vision of providing life-transforming learning experiences to anyone, anywhere. It is now the world’s largest online learning platform for higher education. 190+ of the world’s top universities and industry educators partner with Coursera to offer courses, Specializations, and degrees that empower over 39+ million learners around the world to achieve their career goals. Over 1,800 companies trust the company’s enterprise platform, Coursera for Business, to transform their talent. Coursera is backed by leading venture capital firms such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise Associates, GSV Capital, and Learn Capital.


Arunav Sinha


Arunav Sinha